The Swine Flue is here; the Swine Flu is on its way to you. Get ready for the threat of a worldwide pandemic.
The Bird Flu of old has nothing on the Swine.
Governments around the world are on high alert for a swine flu pandemic today as the death toll from the virus in Mexico rose to more than 100 and possible cases were reported as far afield as Israel, New Zealand and Scotland.
A declaration at the weekend by the World Health Organisation of an international public health emergency was followed by a call for worldwide surveillance of the spread of the virus. The illness has rapidly claimed 103 lives, confined hundreds of people to hospital, and brought Mexico City, one of the world’s largest, to a near standstill.
The United States last night separately declared its own emergency after officials said the virus was now so widespread it was unlikely it could be contained. However, White House officials urged people not to panic and pointed out that no case outside Mexico had proved fatal.
This resurrection of Swine Flu is newer and more deadly than the outbreak I remember from my childhood because this strain is stronger and more awful because it has six genes from a North American flu virus — an exotic blend of bird, pig and human viruses — to make for a virulent cocktail perfect for a worldwide outbreak. Two other genes in this new swine strain are from Asian and European pig viruses.
Here’s how you might get infected:
Swine flu spreads to people in two ways. They contract the virus after being in contact with infected pigs or areas where the pigs have been, or they catch it from an infected person. The disease spreads in the same way as human flu, through coughs and sneezes, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the nose or mouth. The latest outbreak appears to have started in Mexico City.
Swine flu viruses rarely infect humans, but there have been sporadic cases in the past. In most cases, the infection makes people unwell but is not life-threatening. In 1976, a swine flu outbreak in New Jersey made more than 200 people seriously ill and killed one. The virus is thought to have circulated for a month before disappearing. In 1988, a pregnant 32-year-old woman in Wisconsin died in hospital after becoming infected. Between 2005 and January 2009, there were 12 human cases of swine flu in America, but none were fatal. The infection cannot be spread by eating pork or pork products.
We had better become smartly aware of the dangers of the Swine Flue and employ emergency Public Health prevention tactics to quarantine any suspected outbreak so we can preserve ourselves and help stop a world pandemic from our little corner of the world.